Alp D'Huez in April - need a bike...help!!!

gingerslippers
gingerslippers Posts: 17
edited September 2012 in Road buying advice
Hi there,

Ive been a keen follower of the TDF for a number of years and decided at the age of 36 that I wanted a challenge to train for in the hope of offsetting middle age spread!!

Ive invested in a Tacx Fortius with Alps training but need a road bike to train on (rather than using my MTB). I have a budget of around £500 and am now considering buying new as I cant see any great bargains second hand. As there seems to be a huge range of bikes available, I wondered if I could get some advice on what I should be looking at to help me get up the mountain?!

Thanks

Comments

  • A bit early in the season... Could be very cold, or icy or even snowy... I would invest in clothing...
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  • daviesee
    daviesee Posts: 6,386
    I am only guessing but it doesn't sound like you have that many miles in your legs. If that is the case, look for a compact chain set with a 28 or 29 rear cassette.
    Maybe even a triple?
    Absolute minimum - 34 x 25 or 39 x 27.
    None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.
  • A bit early in the season... Could be very cold, or icy or even snowy... I would invest in clothing...

    Totally! I've ridden it in June and it was freezing at the top!
  • t4tomo
    t4tomo Posts: 2,643
    Ski season runs through to nearly the end of April, I wouldn't have thought it desirable and would question whether its possible to cycle up there in April. Go in the summer would be my advice, and buy second hand or at decathlon at that price.
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  • maddog 2
    maddog 2 Posts: 8,114
    I've just bought a Boardman Road Comp for a mate for 680 new. Comes with Sram Apex and a 32 sprocket. Nice bike.
    Facts are meaningless, you can use facts to prove anything that's remotely true! - Homer
  • Hi there...it's a great climb, but agree with the others - April's way too early in the season. I cycled up in July wearing shorts and s/s jersey and it was absolutely freezing at the top!

    Fitness wise, the gradient isn't too bad - it just goes on....and on! I found that my back started to lock up 2/3rds way up. Rather than put my foot down, I had to try and get out of the saddle and flex my back on the switchbacks (which level off and give you some respite). The views on some of the switchbacks are stunning over Bourgs and surrounding mountains. After I'd climbed it (and descending it!) without stopping, I climbed it again...stopping at the view points to take it all in.

    You probably know this already...but if you take a right at the roundabout outside Bourgs on the way to Alp'd Huez...the road will take you up some other classic climbs, like the Glandon, etc. Be warned though - it's a busy stretch of road in Summer and on some stretches you'll have coach's squeezing past you...as you try not to look down the sheer drop to your right!

    Enjoy
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  • t4tomo wrote:
    Ski season runs through to nearly the end of April, I wouldn't have thought it desirable and would question whether its possible to cycle up there in April. Go in the summer would be my advice, and buy second hand or at decathlon at that price.

    Or there are places in Bourg to hire one, although of course, they may not be open that early in the year.
  • maddog 2 wrote:
    I've just bought a Boardman Road Comp for a mate for 680 new. Comes with Sram Apex and a 32 sprocket. Nice bike.


    That'd me my choice for the money.. probably worth stretching over the £500 budget.
  • Thanks guys! Valuable info about the season....will def leave it until later in the year! Thanks also for the info ref the Boardman.
  • Went and had a look at the Boardmans tonight as it looks as though I can get a further discount through the cycletowork scheme. It seems as though they have the following:

    Road Race £669 9.34kg
    Road Comp £849 9.16kg
    Road Team £999 9.00kg
    Road Team Carbon £1299 8.25kg

    As I intended to start out with a budget of around £500, £350 extra may be a little too much for the Road Comp as recommended. The thing I was wondering was in regard the Road Race at £669 or maybe a hybrid bike?

    Is the Road Race version a viable bike as it doesnt seem hugely different in weight from the Comp or Team?

    Do you think that a Hybrid would suit as a possible option? I know that the componentry might not be as good but wondered if anyone had an opinion?

    Hybrid Comp £549 10.75kg
    Hybrid Team £749 9.79kg
    Hybrid Pro £999 9.29kg

    Many thanks in advance
  • daviesee
    daviesee Posts: 6,386
    Dismiss all hybrids. Road bars give you a multitude of position that you won't get on a hybrid and you will be grateful for after a long day on the bike.
    Don't fuss over weight. The differential in weight is only 1.09kg. I could lose that from my body in a week. :wink:
    Look at the components. They will have the bigger influence on price.
    That said, if you find a quality frame with budget (but decent) components, you can upgrade the components later as you go.
    None of the above should be taken seriously, and certainly not personally.
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610
    I used to live in Alpe d'Huez and also Les 2 Alpes. The season ends much earlier in ADH as it's not only South facing, but is also the sunniest ski resort in France. Saying that the pistes in ADH will be open until late April just isn't true. The Glacier will occasionally stay open until mid-April but in 7 years working out there I never saw the Rif Nel skiable past Easter (and this was always due to massive snow-storing and moving effort as it was too hot to make snow). L2A is the higher, colder resort that's open longer, but even then the last couple weeks (usually from the second week of April) it's only open from 2600m and even before then they shut the bottom and only have it open from Le Cret.

    In terms of cycling the 21 bends in April, the weather will be fine. For bike choice your best bet would be to get something cheap to train on and then rent something out there. A buddy of mine did it this year and he was able to rent a Scott Addict R2 which is pretty much the perfect bike to tackle such a climb. You should definitely have your own shoes and pedals as it will be easier and more comfortable than using toe clips.
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  • guinea
    guinea Posts: 1,177
    FYI 3/4 years ago I climbed the Alpe on the 30th of April.

    The ski season closed the day before. I got a light dusting of snow on the climb, but the roads were clear although a little damp.

    It was a little chilly in the descent, but perfect conditions for climbing. I also did the Glandon on closed roads as they weren't cleared yet - that was amazing.

    So, do expect some chilly weather, but the day I did the Glandon it was in the low to mid 20s from snow 2 days before hand.
  • hammerite
    hammerite Posts: 3,408
    Grill wrote:
    I used to live in Alpe d'Huez and also Les 2 Alpes. The season ends much earlier in ADH as it's not only South facing, but is also the sunniest ski resort in France. Saying that the pistes in ADH will be open until late April just isn't true. The Glacier will occasionally stay open until mid-April but in 7 years working out there I never saw the Rif Nel skiable past Easter (and this was always due to massive snow-storing and moving effort as it was too hot to make snow). L2A is the higher, colder resort that's open longer, but even then the last couple weeks (usually from the second week of April) it's only open from 2600m and even before then they shut the bottom and only have it open from Le Cret.

    In terms of cycling the 21 bends in April, the weather will be fine. For bike choice your best bet would be to get something cheap to train on and then rent something out there. A buddy of mine did it this year and he was able to rent a Scott Addict R2 which is pretty much the perfect bike to tackle such a climb. You should definitely have your own shoes and pedals as it will be easier and more comfortable than using toe clips.

    What Grill said.

    I was in Les Arcs 2 ski seasons ago at the beginning of April. It was 30C in the valley and I was at the top of the Aiguille Rouge (3250m) in ski pants and a t-shirt - it was still about 15C. The same year I rode up Alpe d'Huez at the end of July, it was less than 10C and peeing it down with rain, I felt freezing cold just riding up! Whatever time of year you go be prepared for any weather, the same as you would if you were heading to any "mountains" in the UK.

    The road up to Alpe d'Huez will be ridable in April. It's rideable 99% of the year as the roads are kept clear for coaches to get to the ski resort, all the workers to get to work in the morning and the trucks to bring all the food up. Whether you would want to ride up there 99% of the year is another matter - it's actually the descent that the weather/conditions would cause more problems with.
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610
    @hammerite- Did 3 seasons in Les Arcs. Love that place.
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  • hammerite
    hammerite Posts: 3,408
    Grill wrote:
    @hammerite- Did 3 seasons in Les Arcs. Love that place.

    Only been for a week. Unfortunately it wasn't a great snow season and March had been warm. We were staying at 1800 and there was only one narrow strip of snow back to town below Villards. We skied the high stuff all week, would like to go back and try all the lower runs between the trees too.
  • Great advice so many thanks to all. Its all about finding the bike to train on. Being someone who has a history of just using mountain bikes, I'm surprised at how well road bikes maintain their value. Lots of bargains on the mountain bike front but it appears that the depreciation doesn't follow on road bikes. I think I will be on the look out for either a second hand Boardman or new version using the cycletowork scheme. £500-£800 either way!
  • You could probably hire a bike up in the ski resort itself? There's quite a few bike shops up there....I didnt venture in as the big 'ASSOS' stickers in the windows looked dangerous for my wallet!
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  • hammerite
    hammerite Posts: 3,408
    You could probably hire a bike up in the ski resort itself? There's quite a few bike shops up there....I didnt venture in as the big 'ASSOS' stickers in the windows looked dangerous for my wallet!

    Most of the shops in AdH sell road bike kit, but most of them hire out downhill MTB bikes. I guess they figure that if you're into road biking and up there chances are you've ridden up and don't need a road bike.

    There are a couple of shops in Bourg d'Oisans that hire out decent road bikes, so I'd recommend hiring there.

    Again there's a time of year thing going on though, go too early and they'll probably try and get you to hire a pair of skis!*


    *actually the main bike shop in BdO may be a bike shop all year round
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610
    The big shop in BdO is indeed a year round bike shop. Lots of places to rent road bikes in ADH. http://www.cyclehuez.com/rentals.html and Rocky Sports do hire as well as several others whose names escape me.
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  • hammerite
    hammerite Posts: 3,408
    Jnr got one of the http://www.cyclehuez.com/jerseys.htm when we were last up there. Wasn't aware they hired out bikes as well.
  • Good advice so many thanks for that. I do need to get a bike though as I need one for my tacx unit and to familiarise myself with riding a road bike! Seems very difficult to find a bargain!